Caring for Older Animals with a Holistic Approach
Getting older is felt in many different ways by (people and) animals. Some have no major illnesses or ailments, and others may experience a range of different health problems. Long-standing health issues may also deterioriate for some too, or just become more troublesome.
As animals get older, like people, it can take longer to recover from illnesses and injury. Prevention is often better than cure, but that's not to say that conditions cannot be managed and good health cannot be promoted even when your animal is older - it's often never too late to make changes to improve wellbeing!
Here's a few ideas of how complementary therapies and a holistic approach maybe useful to your older animal.
Please note that as age can be "just a number", and to avoid getting into lots of detail, we're not suggesting that any particular age means elderly. Different breeds and species of animals have varying life expectancies, and so being older will be different to different animals.
What Complementary Therapies for Older Animals?
In principle, any complementary therapy will be suitable for an older animal. However, some maybe particularly useful for older animals, including.
- Hydrotherapy - This can take several forms - including cold water hosing, warm water hosing, swimming, spa, and treadmill. Many potential health benefits are possible through the use of hydrotherapy, for your older animal the correct use of hydrotherapy may mean soothing of aches and pains and promoting a feeling of wellbeing.
- Massage - Massage can help to relieve pain, and promote a feeling of wellbeing including a reduction in stress and anxiety. It can be used to help with muscle spasms, strains and arthritis amongst other ailments.
- Physiotherapy - A variety of techniques can be used as part of physiotherapy, and can help improve movement and flexibility for the older animal.
- Trigger Point Myotherapy - Can be used to help with general body tone and improving range of movement.
Are any Complementary Therapies Not Suitable?
Yes! As with any animal (or person!), it will depend on the injury, illness or ailment as to whether a therapy is suitable. In particular, after surgery some therapies could be potentially harmful.
Do consult your Veterinary Surgeon for advice and approval prior to trying any complementary therapy. Additionally, a professional therapist will only want to work with your Vet's consent.
Other Tips for Caring for your Older Animal Holistically
- Dental Care - as your animal gets older, s/he may need more frequent dental checkups (e.g. twice yearly rather than yearly), from your Vet or specialist dental technician. Keeping the teeth and mouth in good condition will help with digestion of food and general comfort.
- Keeping warm - your older animal may feel the cold more than s/he did when younger, especially if the weather is very cold or wet. Get them a couple of good quality rugs or coats! (Buy at least two, so if one gets wet or very dirty, you have another to use whilst drying out or cleaning the other).
- Immune system - this can need extra support as your animal gets older, to help him/her fight off illnesses. A good well-balanced diet, will often be enough to provide sufficient nutrients to promote a healthy immune system but a good quality supplement may also be necessary. Additionally, some complementary therapies can help promote immunity - such as homeopathy.
- British Association of Equine Dental Technicians
- British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons
- Osteoarthritis in Animals & Complementary Therapies
- Sarcoids in Horses & a Holistic Approach
Like advice on where to find a complementary therapist or specialist holistic Veterinary Surgeon for your animal? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org - we're happy to help!